After a recent Cantillon Club panel discussion I participated in, people seemed really interested in the question of “how do you know what your customers want?”
That question is at the heart of customer centricity and customer obsession, and answering it clearly is essential for any company to reduce churn, grow accounts, and expand their markets.
When you get right down to it, that question has been the driving force of my career. For much of that time, getting those deep customer insights required substantial investments which put it out of reach for most companies.
In recent years though, new tools and technologies have made those insights accessible to companies of all sizes. As such, it’s becoming a big competitive differentiator and driving up customer expectations.
Simply put, if you have to guess what your customers want at any point in the Customer Journey, that information gap could be costing you customers.
There are three facets to closing those information gaps and getting the customer insights you need:
Customer Data: Every interaction with your company can be a source of valuable customer data. The key is to identify where the most important interactions are and to make sure you’re gathering that data and tying it to individual accounts and customer segments. And, of course, it’s essential to bring this information together to create a “Single Source of Truth” for all customer-related data.
Research: Even if you’re gathering all relevant customer data, there will still be gaps. It won’t tell you, for example, what new product features they want. To get those insights, all you have to do is ask. Your customers will generally be happy to tell you what they want. And with a well-designed research program, the right approach (surveys, interviews, etc.), and clearly defined research questions, you’ll get the answers you need.
Testing: To fill in any remaining gaps, particularly about how they will respond in the wild, you’ll need to test it on them. This applies to everything from products to messaging to the color of a button on your website. After a bit of testing on a limited group, you should be able to zero in on what will work for the broader audience.
With these systems in place, you’ll have a clear picture of what your customers want, and you’ll be able to continually improve over time.
Setting this up may seem like a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. I’d recommend taking an incremental approach, starting small and expanding as you see greater ROI. And it’s certainly a lot easier (and less risky) than the old trial and error approach.